Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. I was immediately hooked by the story of young Katsa, whose Grace (special power) was killing people. Katsa's universe is exceptionally well drawn, and the story kept me entranced throughout. The story is intense, and I'm not sure I'd recommend it for Voracious Reader for another couple of years, but it's excellent. My only complaint, and it's an odd one, is that none of the character names felt *right* to me. I don't know what was wrong with them, exactly, but I never once felt like those names were the character's actual names.
Fire, which is another story set in the same universe but with almost entirely different characters. It's a prequel, of sorts. I found it equally fascinating, though again, not suitable for Voracious Reader. Yet. (There's S-E-X in it).
I've pre-ordered Bitterblue, which is the next book in the *series* (is it a series when the stories flit around in the timeline?). This one is set in Katsa's time again, or at least Bitterblue is a character from Graceling. And once again, the name bothers me- even in this universe, I can't believe anyone would name a princess Bitterblue. But that won't keep me from starting the book the moment it downloads to my Kindle.
Malerie recommended Neal Schusterman's Unwind, to me. Here's another YA that I won't be passing on to Voracious Reader for awhile. This may be the most unsettling book I've read in a very long time. It's set in our future, after a war (a real war, not just a war of words) between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life people. The result of the war is that all life is considered sacred, but between the ages of 13-17, teenagers can be Unwound-completely and totally dismantled for their parts (transplant science having progressed enough that every cell can be reused). Parents can, and do, *unwind* their troublesome children, society can *unwind* the surplus population (and since all births are sacred, there's plenty of surplus), and religious folks can dedicate a child as a Tithe, raised specifically to be unwound. It's a fascinating and disturbing story. Warning- you won't get it out of your head for a long time.
Dust is set in drought stricken Sasketchewan, in the years between the two world wars. Young Robert Steelgate's brother goes missing, and a mysterious rainmaker comes to town. This fantasy-real world is exceptionally well drawn, the writing is lovely, and the characters pop right off the page. This book was nominated for an Edgar award (from the Mystery Writers of America), though I don't know which year (and I assume it didn't win, since it's still listed as a nominee). I thought the book was excellent right up until the ending, where it all fell apart for me. But the writing is so beautiful, and the setting so *real*, that I recommend it anyway.
Icefall is nominated for an Edgar award this year (that's how I found it, from the MWA announcement list). Solveig is a middle child, with a beautiful older sister, and a younger brother who is the heir to their father's throne. They've been sent to a far-off ice-bound place for their own safety, but danger has followed them. I thought this book was wonderful, and though it's melancholy, I think Voracious Reader will love it. I sincerely hope that Solveig has more adventures.
I worship the fingers that Dave Barry types with, so when he recommended Jack Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt, this year's Newberry Award Winner, I bought it immediately. Unfortunately, the story didn't resonate with me- it's just too.... too quirky... too many weird and annoying characters (especially Jack's parents)(oh yeah, and Jack Gantos is the main character). Sometimes a book will hit me like that, and I change my mind later. So I set it aside for now.
More reviewlets tomorrow- in which I don't love a book that everyone else in the world seems to adore